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Thursday, October 20, 2011

PREVIEW: GB Women Prepare for Russia Challenge

WORLD Handball Champions Russia come to London on Saturday as Great Britain Women’s 2012 European Championship campaign continues (3pm start).

In what will undoubtedly be the biggest challenge yet for Great Britain, the court at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre will be littered with World and Olympic medallists.

Russia has won the last three world championships, and took the silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games. They have a vast pool of players to call on, and seven of their 2009 world champions remain in the squad - Sedoykina, Postnova, Levina, Makeeva, Zhilinskaya, Murayeva and Turey.

After winning the 2009 world championships, they dropped to seventh at Euro 2010, after which the coach made a few changes and brought back some of his ‘veterans’ including line players Shipilova and Bodnieva (the latter after six years out) as well as playmaker Murayeva and right wing Uskova. But they also have some brilliant new young players, left back Anna Sen foremost among them.

Last month Russia won the prestigious GF World Cup invitational tournament in Denmark, comfortably disposing of Spain, Sweden and Denmark in the group stages before beating France then Norway in the Semi final and final respectively. Davidenko and Sidorova were named in the All-Star team.

With a defensive back line of players over 1.85m, Great Britain will need plenty of speed and cross-overs to make space.

It will be Great Britain’s second group match following their clash with hosts Montenegro on Wednesday. Poland are also in the group, and each team will play each other home and away over the next few months.

After Saturday’s Russia match, Great Britain Women are next in action in the Olympic Test Event from November 23-27, before resuming their Euro 2012 campaign with a match against Poland on March 21.

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